Sunday 16 June 2019

Cullen not worried about Leinster's injury crisis as he backs young guns to overcome Toulouse

 

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Leo Cullen insists that he is unconcerned about Leinster's mounting injury crisis as he believes his squad has enough strength in depth to cope with Toulouse's fire-power in today's (1.0) eagerly-awaited Champions Cup showdown.

Leinster go into the game without nine of their internationals, including Johnny Sexton (knee), Rob Kearney (quad) and Devin Toner (ankle) - none of whom are said to be in danger of missing the start of Ireland's Six Nations defence.

Cullen has been forced to reshuffle his backline, which has an average age of 24. A recall for Dave Kearney (29) means that he is the oldest back on show, while Ross Byrne steps in at out-half in place of club captain Sexton.

Despite the loss of key personnel, Cullen has backed his young guns to step up and beat a star-studded Toulouse side, who come into the clash on the back on a 12-game unbeaten run.

"I'm not someone who is worried about what I don't have," Cullen (right) said.

"We have so much faith in the players and the experience and depth we've built over the past few seasons. It's important, we want to have that competition and it's very, very strong across the squad.

"It doesn't particularly worry me. There's a lot of experience there. If you look at the 1-15, they're all internationals.

"There's no magic fix to get guys to 100 caps, you've got to get picked 100 times. We've full confidence in the guys who are going to represent the group in what is a massive game for the club."

The winners of this afternoon's encounter at a sold-out RDS will likely win the pool and Cullen warned against the threat that Toulouse will pose the defending champions.

"If you want to be serious about this competition, winning your home games for sure (is crucial)," the Leinster head coach added.

"Toulouse were a team I had so much admiration for when I was growing up, all through those formative years of teens, early 20s, you watched all those great teams that they had, some of the great players that they had and the way they played.

"I used to sit back and wonder 'How do they go about doing that?' The way they would keep the ball alive, offloading, flooding channels, support channels. You see it in their game now, so it's an amazing evolution, how they've gone full circle."

Irish Independent

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